Cystic Acne and Me

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Cystic acne
Yep, I am one of those people who still suffer from acne well outside of their teens. Adult acne is well and truly a thing shown in the fact I am 26 and my mother was dealing with it up until her late 30s. Mine, like my mother (gee thanks mother for these genes), is a bit different and not as spoken about. Yes I get the regular breakouts and small whiteheads, but I also have a far worse monster to deal with and that monster is something known as cystic acne

Cystic acne is unlike little breakouts in that it is far deeper rooted and sits under your skin for weeks on end. I end up with a cyst on my face for at least a month. A month of feeling low, down, self conscious and just lumpy as hell. It isn't easy to hide if at all. Makeup does nothing to conceal the lump that is protruding out of your skin
At the time of writing this I currently have 3 cystic lumps within my face. One on my chin, one on my jawline which isn't in an easy to spot place thankfully, and one still residing under my eye that isn't noticeable to see but you can still feel it

That's one of the worst parts about cystic acne. They start coming through as really painful lumps and grow into this thing on your face that feels ready to burst as soon as you touch it. Taking off makeup becomes a painful task and one where you try so hard not to aggravate it as it feels like it will explode at any touch. The same with putting makeup on. I actually had my first ever cyst pop whilst I was applying makeup. TMI, but someones gotta talk about it. Because the infection is so deep, having them pop is the worst thing that can happen as it can spread the infection further around your face. If one does pop, clean up quickly and try and get all that gunk out of your face. It will be painful but you don't want those germs spreading and causing more. If you don't squeeze it out it is just going to leak out anyway

It makes me not want to wear makeup when I have cysts, but I also want to wear makeup to cover it. I don't want to wear makeup so that I let my skin breathe and heal naturally, but not wearing it makes me feel like a lump and that everyone will be staring at this growth on my face as if the growth actually is my face. My boyfriend has to deal with my tears and emotional instability when I have cystic acne flaring up as I just don't feel like myself and I worry so much about my looks and how others perceive me. I am also in a lot of pain on my face

People associate acne with dirt, but that is far from it. Acne sufferers tend to have the cleanest skin, and that is the case with me. I just have hormones that cause these flare ups, and that tends to be the main cause of cystic acne. I know when I am due on because a cyst will start to develop. I am on birth control and I know some people go on birth control to control acne but I really don't think mine does this job, yet it does control my migraines which is another story and so because of this I am too scared to change it. You spend ages trying to find something that works for you and when you do find something that works it becomes too scary to change it. I don't want the migraines to come back and lose days of my life

I can't buy a "quick fix spot treatment" and no skin care available from any cosmetic company will really help as cystic acne is so deep rooted that nothing will touch it. It is deep within your skin and most cosmetics only go to the upper layer. Sometimes it is best to let your body heal naturally as cystic acne can scar. I have many scars on my cheeks from cysts years ago which now causes me another skin woe
I am currently undergoing what I deem as a medical battle. I wanted to be referred to a dermatologist but my GP said I wasn't allowed. I have been on courses of antibiotics to fight the infection that cause cystic acne but as soon as the course is over they come back. I have been doing this every time I get a cystic flare up and it is getting tiring now being on a different antibiotic and waiting for an appointment and just the hassle of back and forth and new drugs. I want a long term solution so I don't have to keep going to the GP when I have a flare up. My body confidence is relying on a long term solution as it makes it hard for me to want to function. Apparently I can't be referred to a dermatologist without trying long term antibiotics, and so I am now on antibiotics (Oxytetracycline) for at least a year

I am hoping this long term of antibiotics will be my saving grace. It's no roaccutane which we all know as a serious acne medication, but my mother went on antibiotics for a year and that seemed to stop her cystic acne. I am hoping this can do the same for me before I maybe have to consider roaccutane if I ever get to see a dermatologist and talk to them about it. I am also hoping that maybe my hormones will stop wreaking havoc on my body and creating such a beast on my face but this option seems far less likely to work

FYI, putting these photos up for all to see has been hard. I don't tend to take photos or allow photos to be taken when I do have cysts because I end up hating everything about my face. But if this can help people understand a different kind of acne, I will gladly put it out there

Do you suffer like I do?


  1. A brave, frank, and interesting account, Kaye. I had no idea about this condition.

  2. Thankyou so much for writing this and letting people know the terrible truth about cystic acne.

    The pain, the bruising, the scarring. The glares from people who presume it's your own fault for not washing properly... when really we clean our faces and brushes scrupulously, and still we suffer.

    I dearly hope that you win the battle one day! Until then, remember to love and celebrate your healthy areas of skin, your shiny hair, your long lashes... find beautiful things and enjoy them.

  3. Wow! You are so brave, girl! I remember when I was still a child, I was bullied in school because of my weight and my pimples are poping up like pop corns lol. Thanks to my old brother for helping me how to get rid of my pimples naturally. Anyway, good luck on your medical battle. I am looking forward for the success! ;)

  4. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. I had awful acne and was refered for roaccutane. As much as I hope the antibioltics work and your battle may come to an end, keep pushing for roaccuntane. it changed my life x

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I feel ashamed to admit that until reading your post, I was completely unawae of Cystic Acne so thanks for bringing it to my attention :). You're really brave for sharing your story- I can only imagine how hard some days must be for you - it sounds like it can be so painful. But, please also remember that you are truly beautiful!
    Tasmin |

  6. YES. mine isn't all over, it's ONE CYST FOR MONTHS AT A TIME. so bad and painful that my doctor prescribes benzoperoxide for me and it's CHANGED my life.

    1. I think I have tried that and it just didn't work for me 😭 i currently have 2 cysts on the go even though I am taking antiobiotics once a day like ordered. It's the worst

  7. I had severe acne up until my late teens it was so depressing. I had bad cysts and terrible chest and bacne. I was lucky that roaccutane worked on me. I get a few small breakouts now and again but nothing compared to what I had before. Hope you find something that works for you x

    1. I am having such a struggle to even potentially see a dermatologist for roaccutane! I'd love to know how you managed it x

  8. This is such a brave post, Kaye. I really admire you for sharing your photos, and although I know this won't mean much coming from a total stranger, I think you look beautiful in all of them!

    I hope you get the solution you need soon, it sounds like you're having to really battle for it!

    Well done on such an honest an open post.

    Kate x

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